Solid experience in state and local government strengthens the candidacy of incumbent Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt. Fresh ideas and thorough preparation enhance the qualifications of newcomer Roman Battan.Those qualities lead The Columbian to endorse Republican Boldt and Democrat Battan in the Aug. 7 primary. Ballots will be mailed Wednesday. After the primary advances the top two vote-getters from this four-man race, we'll announce a single endorsement for the Nov. 6 general election. But already we're impressed with Boldt's little bit of the old and Battan's little bit of the new.
Boldt served 10 years in the Legislature (1994-2004) as a state representative and now has built a reputation as a reliable consensus builder through two terms as county commissioner. Battan has the statistical advantage of being the only Democrat in the race, but also has a keen understanding of how government and business can succeed together.
Two other candidates in the race include former Vancouver city councilor Pat Campbell and successful businessman David Madore. Campbell is a weak campaigner who is trying to regain political momentum after 2011, when as a city councilor he suffered the uncommon anguish of an incumbent losing in the primary. Madore is running a pro-jobs and pro-business campaign, although much of his recent political experience has been fighting tolls and opposing the Columbia River Crossing, issues over which Clark County commissioners have little control. Madore is a polarizing force in the community, and we generally support those who aren't in that position.
Boldt's strengths include more than just the power of the incumbency. An admirable independent streak is reflected in the fact that the local GOP leadership excluded him from its website, a silly maneuver that led two GOP board members to resign and only illuminated Boldt's bipartisan nature as a political asset, which is likely to impress the electorate.
Boldt is able to drill down to complicated issues that have profound and enduring impacts on Clark County. Stormwater runoff, for example, might not be the most exciting issue for many local residents, but Boldt sees the county's lingering dispute with the state Department of Ecology as "the most crucial issue we face." He said he believes -- and so does Battan -- that requiring the county to conform to watershed standards of pre-European settlement days is unreasonable. But both candidates also say it's time for the county and the state to resolve the dispute over stormwater regulations.
To their credit, Boldt and Battan say public workers' contracts should be brought more in line with what's seen in the private sector, and each opposes the proposed Cowlitz casino in north Clark County. To all of this, add the fact that Boldt and Battan share a zeal for stimulating economic development by making it easier to conduct business here. That means streamlining permitting processes. Battan's business acumen is bolstered by his experience as a marketing consultant.
Thus, there aren't a lot of philosophical differences between these two candidates, although they differ slightly on light rail. Battan supports the CRC and light rail, seeing tolls as necessary but only if a sunset provision is applied. Boldt supports the CRC, but says the bridge should be built to accommodate light rail in the distant future instead of immediately.
Undoubtedly, more differences will surface if Boldt and Battan both make it to the general election. We hope they do, because they're the two top candidates in this four-man showdown.